United States Navy — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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United States Navy

13 October 1775 – present [ 1 ] [ 2 ]

The United States Navy ( USN ) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is larger than the next 13 largest navies combined in terms of battle fleet tonnage. according to one estimate. [ 5 ] [ 6 ] The U.S. Navy also has the world’s largest carrier fleet, with 10 in service. one under construction (two planned), and two in reserve. The service has 317,054 personnel on active duty and 109,671 in the Navy Reserve. It operates 285 ships in active service and more than 3,700 aircraft. [ 3 ]

The navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy. which was established during the American Revolutionary War and was essentially disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter. It played a major role in the American Civil War by blockading the Confederacy and seizing control of its rivers. It played the central role in the World War II defeat of Japan.

The 21st century United States Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in such areas as East Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. It is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward areas during peacetime, and rapidly respond to regional crises, making it an active player in U.S. foreign and defense policy.

The Navy is administratively managed by the Department of the Navy. which is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Navy. The Department of the Navy is itself a division of the Department of Defense. which is headed by the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of Naval Operations is a four-star admiral and the senior naval officer of the Department of the Navy. [ 7 ] The Chief of Naval Operations is the most senior naval officer in the Department of the Navy. However, the CNO may not be the highest ranking naval officer in the armed forces if the Chairman or the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are Navy officers, who by law, outrank the CNO.


Mission [ edit ]

The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.

—Mission statement of the United States Navy [ 8 ]

From the New Recruits Handbook: [ 9 ]

The mission of the United States Navy is to protect and defend the right of the United States and our allies to move freely on the oceans and to protect our country against her enemies.

The United States Navy is a seaborne branch of the military of the United States. The Navy’s three primary areas of responsibility: [ 10 ]

The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war

The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations and all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy

The development of aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements

U.S. Navy training manuals state that the mission of the US armed forces is to prepare and conduct prompt and sustained combat operations in support of the national interest. [ 11 ] As part of that establishment, the U.S. Navy’s functions comprise sea control. power projection and nuclear deterrence. in addition to sealift duties. [ 12 ]

History [ edit ]

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Origins [ edit ]

It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.

The Navy was rooted in the American seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors, captains and shipbuilders in the colonial era. [ 14 ] In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. Massachusetts had its own navy. The establishment of a national navy was an issue of debate among the members of the Continental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, and make it easier to seek out support from foreign countries. Detractors countered that challenging the British Royal Navy. then the world’s preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking. Commander in Chief George Washington resolved the debate when he commissioned seven ocean-going cruisers to interdict British supply ships, and reported the captures to the Congress.

The Continental Navy achieved mixed results; it was successful in a number of engagements and raided many British merchant vessels, but it lost 24 of its vessels [ 15 ] and at one point was reduced to two in active service. [ 16 ] The navy was disbanded at war’s end.

From reestablishment to the Civil War [ edit ]

We ought to begin a naval power, if we mean to carry on our commerce.

The United States would be without a navy for nearly a decade—a state of affairs that exposed its merchant ships to a series of attacks by Barbary pirates. The sole armed maritime presence between 1790 and the launching of the U.S. Navy’s first warships in 1797 was the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS), the primary predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard. Although USRCS Cutters conducted operations against these pirates, the depredations far outstripped the abilities of the USRCS and Congress ordered the construction and manning of six frigates on 27 March 1794; [ 15 ] three years later the first three were welcomed into service: USS United States . USS Constellation . and USS Constitution .

USS Constitution battles HMS Guerriere in the War of 1812 .

Following an undeclared Quasi-War with France, the U.S. Navy saw substantial action in the War of 1812. where it was victorious in eleven single-ship duels with the Royal Navy. The navy drove all significant British forces off Lake Erie and Lake Champlain and prevented them from becoming British controlled zones of conflict. Despite this, the U.S. Navy was unable to prevent the British from blockading American ports and landing troops on American soil. [ 17 ] After the war, the U.S. Navy again focused its attention on protecting American shipping assets, sending squadrons to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, South America, Africa, and the Pacific. [ 15 ] From 1819 to the outbreak of the Civil War the Africa Squadron operated to suppress the slave trade. seizing 36 slave ships, although its contribution was smaller than that of the much larger British Royal Navy.

Naval power would play a significant role during the American Civil War. where the Union had a distinct advantage over the Confederacy on the seas. [ 17 ] A Union blockade on all major ports shut down exports and the coastal trade, but blockade runners (mostly owned and operated by British companies) provided a thin lifeline. The brown-water Navy’s control of the river systems made internal travel difficult for Confederates and easy for the Union. The war saw ironclad warships in combat for the first time at the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862, which pitted USS Monitor against CSS Virginia . [ 18 ] [ page needed ] For two decades after the war, however, the U.S. Navy’s fleet was neglected and became technologically obsolete.

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